Bus driver training under the microscope as new school year appr - WSMV Channel 4

Bus driver training under the microscope as new school year approaches

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CLARKSVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

School systems across the state are challenged with a bus driver shortage.

They must recruit drivers who are looking for this kind of part-time work. Some schools are having to leave routes uncovered because of the driver shortage.

Regardless, safety managers aren't letting just anyone get behind the wheel.

“It is a part-time job, a five hour a day job - but with good benefits and good pay. So somebody who might be retired from another business but still wants something to do part time - those are the people that we are out looking for,” said Elizabeth Kong, driver safety manager with the Clarksville-Montgomery County School System.

Kong said each driver must pass a department of transportation physical before they can be hired.

“We make sure their DOT (physical) is current, because that's a big issue if their DOT expires,” she said. “If they have any medical issues, if their doctor gives them medication that doesn't pass DOT regulations, we are constantly monitoring that."

Kong explained just how selective they are. After starting with 11 applicants, only two are in training, and will be driving one of the buses this fall.

Tiffanye Hopkins is among those who made the cut. Hopkins said she has put a premium on her attention behind the wheel.

“What comes to my heart is my children. What if my kids (are) on that bus?” Hopkins said. “I have to look at their safety, as well as my own."

All potential drivers undergo a TBI and FBI background check. They must pass drug and alcohol tests, have a clean driving record, and must be able to hold a class B commercial driver's license.

Kong wants drivers to know they are always being watched.

“If any issues are brought to us, we automatically pull a (surveillance) camera,” she said. “We do random searches, we might do random GPS searches for speeding and things like that."

Transportation administrators said they will continue to hire new drivers well after the start of the school year. They encourage people to apply.

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